Although the last post may be deceiving, Julia and I did do other things in Paris than just eat. We had both done the requisite touristy things like ride the Eiffel Tower and see the Louvre before, and we were both interested in new experiences. So, we cobbled together an itinerary that we nicknamed our “Grand Garden Tour” and visited Giverny and Versailles in back-to-back day trips. Besides being a recipe for exhaustion by the end of our 2nd day, it was a really interesting study in gardening and aesthetic contrasts. The pictures below explain this best…
One garden designed to look natural, and the other transparently hyper-designed. Both supremely beautiful. Which garden do you think you would prefer to have in your backyard, if you could be Monet or Louis XIV?
Versailles was holding a fascinating art exhibition when we visited. Since 2008, Versailles has been been hosting year-long, single artist exhibitions with the aim of “bringing the chateau to life,” according to their program. Takashi Murakami is this year’s chosen artist. You might recognize his name from his recent collaboration with Louis Vuitton. His works are inspired by manga as well as meetings between modern and ancient Japan and eastern and western cultures. Critics compare him to Andy Warhol because he manufactures his art like commercial products. His sculptures and paintings were dispersed throughout the palace and gardens in a way that invited comparison and contrast with their surroundings.
Isn’t it interesting how this art contrasts to the works inspired by the gardens of Giverny, such as the familiar view below?
I think both artists could be called pioneers. Some people do not like the Murakami exhibition because they say visitors come to Versailles to see Versailles, not a modern art exhibit. What do you think?
Lots of food for thought!